Episode #22

The power of video throughout the enrollment funnel

Featuring Chris Showalter Lead Video Producer at StudentBridge
The power of video throughout the enrollment funnel
< Back to all episodes

In This Episode

You’ll hear from Chris Showalter who is the Lead Video Producer at StudentBridge.

You'll hear him discuss:

  • top mistakes schools make when creating video
  • when to use short-form, long-form, self-shot, and professional video
  • where in the enrollment funnel video plays the biggest role
Chris Showalter

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Host: You're listening to filling seats, the state of enrollment, marketing, and higher ed. Hosted by StudentBridge. In this podcast. You'll learn, what's working to grow shape and sustain enrollment. At colleges and universities directly for marketers thought leaders and ed tech innovators, because anyone can design a brochure, but not anyone can fill seats.

[00:00:27] Host: Welcome to episode 22 of filling seats. In this episode, you'll hear from Chris Showalter, who is the lead video producer at studentbridge You'll hear him discuss top mistakes schools make when creating video, when to use short form long form self shot and professional video. And where in the enrollment funnel video plays the biggest role let's meet chris

[00:00:55] Chris Showalter: My career in film and video, started at Georgia State, where I studied that. graduated with a degree in film and,got an internship making product videos at an online retail company, which, It was good experience and I think one of the biggest takeaways from that was, I traveled around with this recording Mobile Studio, this bus where they basically brought artists on and helped them, record themselves.

[00:01:22] Chris Showalter: But then also we would make little spotlight videos showcasing the artists. And I realized some things early on, like the importance of showing, I don't know, showing the space where you're at, like we are, a lot of times we're on these buses doing a lot of video and the, I'd go back and look at some of the work and there'd be just like, stuff missing, like where the bus was at this music festival.

[00:01:44] Chris Showalter: I like, would watch the video and be like, man, I really wish I could see the music festival where the bus was at. And and I think that actually has stuck with me through the years. wanting to like showcase. An area or a space,and doing it well I think is really important.

[00:01:59] I started working at Student Bridge in 2013 so that's getting close to nine years. And I've worked with schools all across the country, creating video for.

[00:02:12] Host: Tell me a little bit about your current position, and I would also love to know if you know how many schools you've filmed.

[00:02:20] it's over a hundred at this point. I don't know if it's in the over 200 yet, but somewhere in there. I've been to a lot of schools all across the country.

[00:02:29] my job has changed through the years. I came on as like kind of entry level videographer and I currently am the production team lead, lead a awesome team of, season. Full-time staff

[00:02:40] Chris Showalter: and, we've worked with everybody from, massive state schools to like small liberal arts colleges and even, a few K through 12.

[00:02:48] Host: , If someone has never worked with a professional videographer before, you show up on their campus to start filming, what is that process like? What does a day look like?

[00:02:59] the day of filming starts a good bit before the actual film date. there's a lot of planning that goes into a successful day of filming. so on the day of filming, when I show up, we've already. identified all of the different people we're gonna be talking to, all of the interviews.

[00:03:17] Chris Showalter: We've also identified all of the different types of B-roll or visuals, that we like to show. And, we have, a small crew, but a very competent crew we kinda have two teams. One team is dedicated to capturing all of the interviews, all of the, we call it a roll, the talent to camera,

[00:03:37] Chris Showalter: and then there, there's the other crew, and they're dedicated to capturing all the visuals, like all the B roll. You know that's footage in the classroom, that's footage. In the dining hall or the residence hall or, beauty shots of campus, that kind of thing. , we attacked this thing from two different angles simultaneously, getting both pieces that are important, I believe, to creating a great video.

[00:03:59] we handle pretty much everything. On site. the lead producer is generally the one who's conducting the interviews, talking to students, talking to faculty, really just helping them to tell the story that, that they have to tell. And then, also the second crew, who's capturing the B roll, they will.

[00:04:20] Chris Showalter: Do all the directing, all the coaching. really I think the main thing we lean on clients for is, making sure that we are saying all the right things and making sure that we're in all the places that we need to be, helping us get to. any sort of B roll opportunity or interview location our schedule normally, goes from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and we do a lot of work in that little bit of time.

[00:04:46] Chris Showalter: We're pretty well equipped when it comes to, coaching nont talent. occasionally, we'll come across like a faculty. Member in the theater department, and they don't require a whole lot of coaching, but for the most part, students and even faculty,when they are sitting in front of the camera sometimes get a little bit nervous. And I think one of the things that we've picked up on through the years is the ability to put people at ease, especially, non-professionals and get them talking, start a conversation where, They are able to

[00:05:18] Chris Showalter: explain their story in a way that is, emotionally engaging or that, that is exciting. And, I think that's one of our favorite parts of conducting these interviews is getting people comfortable and talking to them and not just trying to get a soundbite for a video.

[00:05:36] Chris Showalter: But really speaking to them as people and understanding, what they've been through, their perspectives,and trying to, get authentic stories.

[00:05:48] Host: I think we can all agree that storytelling is, really important, but video specifically is expensive and it's time consuming, and it's resource heavy. what do you believe is the power of video or the advantage of video versus text and pictures?

[00:06:09] the number one way video is powerful is in conveying emotion. whether. Sharing the excitement of a football game or the pride of, overcoming adversity or the warmth of a welcoming community.

[00:06:24] Chris Showalter: I don't think there's any other medium that really can convey that emotion to people as well as a well crafted video can. it's ingrained in our DNA to be drawn to stories and fascinated by them.

[00:06:38] Chris Showalter: And,, video is just a great vehicle to be able to convey stories. every student is gonna probably have a somewhat similar experience, where they are. Leaving the nest, , entering into a new phase of life.

[00:06:55] so being able to hear from another student about how maybe they were shy and nervous and coming to school, and then how the community there, help coax them outta their shell and, make connections and, help them accomplish things. Maybe they couldn't have imagined doing before getting into that.

[00:07:13] Chris Showalter: I think that's something that, really resonates with a lot of different perspective students and can give them courage and comfort, to do the same. And regardless of what the story is, conveying that emotion through story is really powerful and, in my opinion, worth the investment.

[00:07:30] Chris Showalter: , the number two way video is, really powerful is just for conveying information. there's a lot of competition for our attention these days. we're all doing a lot. And if you've got something you wanna say and you want people to hear it, I think video is probably your best bet for getting your message out there.

[00:07:48] It's an easily digestible medium,that we all very familiar with, and especially the younger generation, they've become accustomed to using that as like their main source of information.

[00:08:02] Host: What do you believe is the place for short form and long form video, and how would you define short form and long form video?

[00:08:11] Chris Showalter: . I guess I would define short form video as anything under two to three minutes. And then long would be anything, greater than that. I think the place for short form video really is anything marketing. I don't think long form video is great for marketing.

[00:08:29] so if you want to spark interest in an audience about what you're doing or what you're offering, You're gonna want to use short form video. It's 99.9% of what we do. Our target video length is 60 to 90 seconds. longer form video, which we'll occasionally do, I think is best used for, process videos.

[00:08:50] Host: We've done a couple. Special videos, you know, explaining for international students how to complete the admissions process cuz it can be kind of complicated. I think longer form video can be useful for, fleshing out, more interesting stories like a student or alumni are faculty spotlight. But even then I would, try to stay under three minutes. , or not go much over three minutes. been all the students and faculty and alumni that you've shot with and all the campuses that you've been to, are there any stories that stand out

[00:09:28] Chris Showalter: I was at the University of Virginia,at a graduate, school. a lot of the students there who were getting their PhDs and getting their masters, the reasons why they were doing it were pretty, pretty astounding.

[00:09:44] there's a lot of women who had been in healthcare and had just seen, inequality in their communities, and wanted to make a difference. they'd seen gun violence. They'd seen all of these problems in their communities, and they were just, We're tired of just treating the symptoms and they wanted to get at the root cause of those problems.

[00:10:12] Chris Showalter: And so they'd gone back to school, to get their PhD to try to address some of these issues at the root. so that was, that, that was one. there's a lot of stories of. First generation college students that , come from a family that no one's ever gone to school and no one's ever,been at college before.

[00:10:31] Chris Showalter: And so hearing the ways in which the schools have really. Gun above and beyond to help these students succeed in the college environment. I feel like those stories are moving. There's a story of a student who had all of these health problems that just came outta nowhere and made it like really difficult to stay in college and stories of the staff going and picking up groceries for her and bringing them to her door and like faculty, being very flexible and working with her to make sure that she could stay in school and could pursue,her goals of getting an education at that university.

[00:11:15] those kinds of stories are really. Stick with me and I remember to this day, years later,

[00:11:21] Host: What are some mistakes that you see schools making with video?

[00:11:25] one mistake I see is too much talking head. I think a video as kinda like show and tell. And if you're getting up in front of the class, and telling, but you forgot to bring anything to show, everyone in class might lose interest a little bit. going back to the emotional power of video, I think having lots of visuals or b roll as we call it to show what people are talking about, is really important to creating that emotional experience.

[00:11:55] And then I think another mistake that I see is,people not really investing in video and, you know, like we were speaking about earlier, it takes a lot of time and thought and equipment and effort to make video happen. It's a resource-intensive medium. but I think it's worthwhile to invest in that.

[00:12:16] and It's more accessible now than ever before. So I think anyone can pick up a camera and, take a crack at it. And I see a lot of pretty good stuff from,even just small investments, school investing in equipment and having their students put together some videos like I think that.

[00:12:39] Chris Showalter: I've seen some pretty decent stuff, coming out of those little investments, the piece that I see sometimes missing from those is experience though. I think understanding how to capture a scene in a way that will not only be visually engaging, but also flow well without any continuity problems.

[00:12:57] Chris Showalter: Or, you know, as we were speaking about earlier, understanding how to work with non-professionals on camera. Put them at ease. help them come out of their shell and talk about their experiences, or,just understanding the many different pieces that will be needed to create a compelling video and planning them all out to make sure that they're all captured.

[00:13:15] Chris Showalter: I think these things are learned through years of experience you'll just get a much more polished video and product if you invest in video. And I think it's worth it. I think about my own self and I've got a ratchet set, I've got wrenches and I've got pliers.

[00:13:31] Chris Showalter: But if I have a car problem, I still take my car to the mechanic cuz he's got expertise, he's got experience and he knows better than I think I could. How to fix my car.

[00:13:43] Host: what do you feel is the place for self shot video versus professional video? Because obviously with platforms like Instagram reels and TikTok, it is very commonplace for someone to pick up their phone, shoot a video and throw it up there, so , where do you see the amateur versus professional fitting into an overall marketing strategy?

[00:14:08] Chris Showalter: it is important to. Put out a lot of content and amateur video. can check , the quantity box. but I think you also want to. Really consider checking the quality box because let's say you've been putting out all this content consistently, but when somebody gets to your website or when somebody gets to your content, if it's mainly just like a ton of Zoom recordings or long commencement speeches, and that's all you got.

[00:14:33] I don't know if a viewer would stay that long. They might lose interest. So I think it's important to strike a balance, have some, more engaging, professional content, featured, to spark the interest and, keep viewers attention for a little longer, and then supplement with amateur content.

[00:14:54] Host: Can you risk letting your prospective students fall asleep? Are you snory-telling or storytelling with student bridge? You'll have better stories, better visits and better enrollment. If traditional marketing isn't working, we'll help you deliver better content. If your visitors aren't sticking around, we'll help you provide a better experience.

[00:15:17] Host: And if stealth visitors aren't raising their hands, we'll help you get more. Be where your students are. 24 7 with student bridge. We've proudly partnered with hundreds of institutions to deliver thousands of online experiences, to hundreds of thousands of prospective students leading to better stories.

[00:15:38] Host: A private liberal arts school had one third of all self visitors return to their site and browse for much longer than the average student. Better. Two public universities saw a four to 20 times increase in virtual event participation and better enrollment. One law school partner saw a 23% increase in enrollment in only one year and a small public college had 20% enrollment growth over four years.

[00:16:05] Host: Are you ready to amplify the story of your school, faculty and students with a video? Viewbook. Are you ready to activate the ultimate self-guided campus tour app when you can't be there with visitor? Or are you ready to deliver an impressive virtual campus experience with video and 360 degree images with interactive maps, student bridge is your one stop shop for easy and engaging enrollment solutions.

[00:16:29] Host: Learn more@studentbridge.com.

[00:16:34] Host: what are some types of video that you think are under utilized?

[00:16:39] Chris Showalter: I think we're all pretty familiar with the, the talking head, the interview video. that's pretty common now. As far as the types of stories you tell, within that framework of the traditional video, the talking head. even though that style is pretty common, I think there's certain types of stories that are not featured as much as they could be or that are under utilized.

[00:17:03] I think some of those are alumni stories. the reason those are probably under utilized is that they're a little more difficult to find. You gotta like,go through a number of channels, ask your faculty and your career coaches if they know anybody, and then try to track those people down and then get to them to capture their story.

[00:17:23] Chris Showalter: But I think those are some of the most impactful, stories to tell,also, another style of video that is somewhat underutilized is the, I guess the walking and talking, tour videos. I think those are fantastic way to showcase buildings or points of interest.

[00:17:42] and they're a little more engaging. you're walking, you're talking. but also like the alumni stories, they can be a little bit more challenging to create. Since the quality of the video, relies a little more heavily on the charisma of the tour guide and the ability of the camera operator to film, to edit.

[00:18:02] Chris Showalter: And by filming to edit, being able to visualize the edit while they're filming so that, they capture it in a way that it flows smoothly. that's one of my favorite styles of video to create because of that process, because of having to think about the end product while creating it.

[00:18:19] Chris Showalter: And that just opens a lot of creative opportunities that are fun.

[00:18:22] Host: would you say that if someone is going to invest in professional video, that they should also invest the time in choosing the right people and finding the right people to put in video and not necessarily just go for. Whoever signs up or whoever is easiest to ask.

[00:18:42] Host: For example, how you were talking about, the young.

[00:18:45] Chris Showalter: Oh yeah. it's so important for the success of a video, to either put the work in yourself, if you have the time to find the stories, to look at video examples and really think about. You want your video to look like and ways to make it engaging or to find people who know how to do that already.

[00:19:12] Chris Showalter: And shameless plug, we do that exclusively. So for us, a lot of our clients come to us cuz they are like, Yeah, I'm super busy. I don't really have a lot of time to invest into figuring. What I want to do, I know I want to make some really good videos, help me do that. And that's what we do.

[00:19:37] from our project managers who, are great at brainstorming with people, with our clients to,To ideate about the kinds of things that would best represent that those schools to, the on site, our producers who worked with, lots and lots of different schools, helping them tell their stories.

[00:19:57] to the platforms that, that our,web developers create,that really, showcase and brand the school well, and are a great vehicle for distributing the videos. we do this a lot and we're pretty good at.

[00:20:11] Host: You've worked with 100 to 200 different schools. What are some of the things that you have heard from, partners who have worked with Student Bridge?

[00:20:21] I think A lot of the folks that we work with come into these projects with a bit of, anxiety and,Worry, like what if things happen, the day of,that, that don't go well?

[00:20:34] Chris Showalter: What if somebody doesn't show up? what if there's like some bad weather? I think there's a lot of people just have a lot of anxiety around video and generally by the end of it all,We hear one that it's, people are like, Oh my gosh, that is exhausting. How do you guys do that all the time?

[00:20:54] Chris Showalter: I hear that a lot, but also, two, we hear like from a lot of our clients that we made it easy, we made it doable. they come out of a shoot with us feeling really confident and really good about all the things that we were able,able to capture, and. it's really nice hearing that kind of feedback.

[00:21:11] Host: where in the enrollment funnel do you see video playing? The biggest role?

[00:21:18] Chris Showalter: I think video plays, an important part in all stages of, the student admissions funnel. from capturing interest of a student,and we create videos specifically to be plugged into these different areas.

[00:21:35] so from creating like flashy. Attention grabbing, text heavy videos that do well on social media, for example, too. getting a little bit more in depth, about some of the resources that are offered, at a school. or the ways in which students are integrated into.

[00:21:57] Chris Showalter: Campus life or the outcomes, if mom and dad are like, Hey, we really wanna, find out, is my kid gonna have a job after all this is done? a lot of videos we create are like answering that question.

[00:22:09] Host: What do you see for the future of video?

[00:22:12] in my own personal dream, I imagine like floating. , gravity free, like lights and cameras where I just place a light in the air and it stays there. And same with the camera, and I control it with my mind.

[00:22:25] Chris Showalter: But no, but realistically speaking, I, I have some friends who, think the future of video lies in virtual reality. and I think that's certainly possible. Or there's definitely a place for that. things like 360 video are incredible tools for allowing people to experience a place without actually going there.

[00:22:46] Chris Showalter: And we offer that but I think the level to which. A filmmaker is able to curate the visual experience, draw attention to detail, convey beauty and symmetry through well , framed shots. I don't think that's going to be outdated anytime soon.

[00:23:05] and rather, I think we are going to see more of what's already happen. Which is, companies working on creating products and tools to make video production, more accessible to everyone and tear down the barrier. To creativity. and somebody might say Well, does that make you nervous?

[00:23:25] for your job? are people just gonna be able to go out there and do what you do, and honestly, I don't,get nervous at all. I personally get excited about,The future of video and the ease with which we'll be able to keep getting better and more interesting shots and have more creative ways, to tell stories, and then the differentiator is not gonna be like, how high is the resolution of your video file?

[00:23:51] Chris Showalter: Or how well is your image exposed? But it's gonna be really around what kind of ideas can you come up with and what are the ways in which you're gonna be able to creatively tell those things and make it interesting telling a good story and capturing someone's attention and keeping them engaged will never go outta style. Just the method and the medium may change and adjust.

[00:24:14] Chris Showalter: Yeah, The ways in which we are able to tell those stories and,the perspectives which we're able to get, like 10 years ago, we wouldn't have been able to. Get all of the, these like amazing aerial shots. They're now like ubiquitous. Everybody's got great drone footage and to me that's really cool because it just adds another layer of being able to tell stories.

[00:24:36] Chris Showalter: And I think that's the kind of thing we're gonna keep seeing. Now we're able to get really smooth footage with, gimbals. it used to be that we were just tied. tripods, there's just gonna be more and more ways I think, of creating dynamic video and,ways of interesting storytelling.

[00:24:55] Host: if you could go back five to 10 years and give yourself advice, what would it be?

[00:24:59] always, always, always try to keep the intended audience at the forefront of my mind. as I was creating video,Think about what they would think is relevant or interesting use language, they would understand.

[00:25:15] if there are administrative or scholastic initiatives or anything like that, only address them through the lens of how they would affect students. it can be easy to get zoned in on our own little areas or what we're doing. and so those are some of the ways in which I really try to coach, all of our interviewees and our tour guides and whatnot, these days.

[00:25:43] and you know, that's something I learned over time. I'd also tell myself to wear more sunscreen and do more stretching, and to never lift with my back.

[00:25:53] Host: If someone would like to connect with you or the video team, what's the best way for them to do that?

[00:25:59] if somebody wanted to connect with me or had any follow up questions, I would encourage them to follow the link in the show notes.

[00:26:05] Host: . Well, thank you so much for interviewing with me today. This was an amazing conversation.

[00:26:10] Chris Showalter: Yeah, thanks for having me on today.

[00:26:11]

[00:26:14] Host: This is the Filling Seats podcast, hosted by StudentBridge, your one stop shop for easy and engaging enrollment solutions. If you're tired of snory-telling, and ready to start storytelling your way to better visits and better enrollment, visit studentbridge.com.

[00:26:32] Host: To connect with this episode's guest, check out the show notes. If you enjoyed this episode, leave a rating and review and don't forget to subscribe. For more information about the podcast or to let us know, you'd like to be a guest visit studentbridge.com/podcast. Thanks for listening!